Shilpa Dighe (Nutritionist - Kuwait)
Many people starting out with a body transformation program might not know the difference between clean food and the junk you should avoid, which means they risk eating food they believe to be healthy when in reality it is causing more harm. Familiarize yourself with the top muscle building and fat burning foods you should be eating on a daily basis.
Chicken breast (skinless), turkey breast (skinless), egg whites, seafood, lean steak and nonfat milk and dairy products
Avoid sauces with all your protein servings - always ask for the sauce to be served on the side. Avoid creamy sauces at all costs!
These protein sources are the healthiest available and best suited for any muscle-building or fat loss program.
Poultry (chicken or turkey), must always be skinless and never fried. Always choose chicken breast or turkey breast and avoid the fatty parts such as the thighs. Make sure your serving is baked, grilled, roasted or broiled. Both chicken and turkey are low in sodium and can be eaten as main dishes or added to stews, sandwiches (with whole wheat bread) and salads.Egg whites are the leanest proteins available, as the fat content in eggs are found only in the yolks. They have no cholesterol and you’ll only ever eat fat with egg whites if you fry them in oil or butter. Egg whites make an excellent choice for breakfast or as a snack in between meals. Always use a nonstick spray if you decide to fry them, or cook them with water, instead of oil and butter.
Seafood is another very high source of protein. Eating various types of seafood can keep your food interesting and add a lot of variety to a diet. Fish is also very high in Omega 3 fatty acids, providing you with essential nutrients and amino acids that the body cannot produce itself. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals that can reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes.
If you choose to eat steak, make sure you always choose lean cuts and small portions, to avoid the high animal fat content found in red meat. Some safe choices include lean ground beef, lean sirloin, flank steak, top round steak and filet mignon. The ones to avoid are T-bone steaks, skirt steak, flap steak, porterhouse steak, rib-eye steak and New York strip steak. Lean cuts of steak provide the body with muscle mass and energy and help to keep you satiated.
Nonfat dairy products are rich in both proteins and carbohydrates and make excellent choices for snacks in between meals or to add to whole wheat toast. Nonfat dairy is low in fat and calories and also fortified with calcium. Avoid full-fat dairy products or anything that’s more than 2% fat, as these products are high in fat and in calories. Make sure yoghurt is always nonfat and unsweetened.
Oats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, brown rice, beans, lentils, quinoa, couscous, whole grains and wheat products
Oats are one of the best choices for breakfast and also the most satiating, as a slow releasing carb. They increase blood glucose and insulin levels in the body and are a great energy source to fuel workouts and heavy weight training sessions. Most athletes, bodybuilders and fitness models eat oats for breakfast on a daily basis, even during fat loss programs. Make sure oats are always natural or old-fashioned and avoid any sweetened or flavored packets. Oatmeal can be customized to your taste, meaning you can add nonfat milk, protein powder, cinnamon, crushed nuts, fruit, sugar-free syrups or nonfat sweeteners.
Yams are another excellent choice for a starchy carb with a meal. They are high in fiber, aid digestion and contain antioxidants that help protect your cells from damage. They’re also filling and slow to digest. Eat them with rice, veggies or protein, or mash them up and mix them.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are also fortified with vitamins, iron and nutrients. They ward off disease and are good for the skin. Make sure your potatoes are always baked, and avoid adding any unhealthy sauces. Have a baked potatoes with salsa or low-fat toppings or add it as a side serving to protein sources or salads.
Brown rice makes another fantastic starchy carb and can be eaten on a daily basis. Make sure rice is always steamed or boiled. The best types of brown rice are slow-cooked or basmati rice, but instant brown rice is still a suitable choice. White rice is processed, is not slow-releasing and does not offer the same nutritional value as brown rice, which is packed with fiber that helps promote digestion and fat loss. It also aids in synthesizing fats. Make sure you measure your portions.
Beans, lentils and quinoa are essential starches that provide the body with fuel, protein, fiber and nutrients. They are low in fat content and help keep you full for long periods of time. Add them to protein sources or salads for a satiating muscle-building meal.
Whole grains and wheat products should always be your choice of carbohydrates, but remember to avoid any refined wheat made from white flour. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who eat whole wheat on a daily basis weigh less, as they’re fuller for longer, snack less and are less inclined to eat refined grains.
All kinds of vegetables
Vegetables hardly contain any calories and can be consumed in large quantities when trying to get extremely lean. They can be eaten as snacks, mixed with protein or added to salads. Make sure they’re always grilled, steamed or raw and avoid adding sauces or butter to your vegetables. Enriched with nutrients and vitamins, veggies prevent diseases and are extremely low in fat and cholesterol.
All kinds of fruit
Fruit is natural simple carbohydrate, which is high in fiber and provides essential health benefits. Low in calories, most varieties of fruit are no more than 80 calories per serving and make an excellent snack. They can also be added to meals such as oatmeal and wholegrain cereals or mixed with nonfat yoghurt. Fruit contains zero cholesterol, helps maintain healthy blood pressure in the body and reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes. Make sure you eat fruits in moderation on a daily basis.
Avocados, olives and olive oil, nuts and fish oil
Avocados are among the best choices of healthy fats. Along with fighting cancer and aging, they also reduce your blood pressure, nourish your heart and aid in digestion. Avocado can be added to salads and its creamy texture makes it the ideal alternative to mayonnaise. It can also be eaten as a delicious snack if you added lemon, oil or a few spices.
Olive oil and olives are other essential fats. Olive oil is made by extracting the oil from olives. If stored in a cool, dark room, it can last for up to two years. Olives and olive oil are a rich source of amino acids, which protect you from heart disease. Olives can be eaten as snacks or added to salads as a tasty replacement for croutons or cheese. If you add olive oil to your salad, always opt for the unprocessed types, such as extra-virgin olive oil.
Nuts are another source of natural plant-based healthy fat. They help lower blood cholesterol and are rich sources of vitamins and fiber. Extremely high in calories, make sure you restrict your calories by consuming very small serving sizes as snacks (not more than a handful) and avoid eating them altogether in restaurants or bars, as it can be easy to overindulge. Sprinkle your salads or dishes with nuts for added taste and health benefits.
Fish oil can be found in oily fish and contains Omega 3 fatty acids. It can be obtained from fish oil supplements or eaten in oily fish including salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, herring and anchovies. Make sure your fish is always baked, steamed or grilled and stay away from fried food. Don’t add any unhealthy sauces - choose olive oil or lemon juice instead.
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